Q&A: What Life Raft Do You Have On Morgan’s Cloud?

Question: What sort of life raft do you have on Morgan’s Cloud?

Answer: We have an RFD Beaufort 6-person commercial SOLAS raft.

The advantage of this raft is that Revere and RFD Beaufort are partners in it: Revere in the USA and RFD Beaufort for the rest of the world. Or at least that seems to be how it works, although you can buy a RFD Beaufort in the USA too. Anyway, this means that you can get these rafts serviced at any of some 300 RFD Beaufort service stations anywhere in the world as well as at Revere stations in the USA. For example, there are 23 service depots in Norway.

Contrast that to many of the American-built rafts from companies like Switlik, Winslow or Givens that can only be serviced in major yachting centers. This is not a trivial issue if you plan to sail to out-of-the-way places, as we found to our cost when we had to ship our old Givens to the UK from Norway to get it serviced—the shipping cost twice what the service did.

Having said that, I’m not sure that the RFD Beaufort is as good a raft as the top of the line offerings from the above companies. It was certainly a lot cheaper, even though we opted for a commercial quality raft that is SOLAS certified. However, we are comfortable with the RFD because, in our opinion, the most likely scenarios which would force us into the raft are fire or flooding, not extreme weather. Frankly, we think it unlikely that we would make it into the raft alive in a storm strong enough to overwhelm Morgan’s Cloud, so whether or not the RFD is the ultimate storm survival raft is academic to us.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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